The PE WASTE project successfully develops new plastic recycling methodologies
The PE WASTE project “Industrial Research of plastic recycling processes based on circular economy” has recently ended.
In this project started in 2019, CETIM have collaborated with GENEPOL to optimize its industrial plastic recycling processes.
One of the main objectives of the European Union is the expansion of the circular economy in the plastic sector, which is why the percentage of total recovery of plastic packaging has risen to 60% by 2030. Following this principle, GENEPOL has been for years promoting the use of recycled low density polyethylene (LDPE) pellets. Until today, due to limitations in the technical characteristics, it has not been able to commercialize this pellets in markets with higher added value. But, with the success of the PE WASTE project, GENEPOL has obtained high quality recycled thermoplastic products.
With PE WASTE, a new plastics recycling system is launched that makes it possible to recover the waste from the black bag or MSW, thus preventing it from being dumped or incinerated. New valued products have been obtained, such as LDPE of various qualities, compost and ecological fertilizers and / or fuel for cement plants.
In collaboration with GENEPOL, CETIM have carried out an exhaustive investigation that has allowed us to optimize cleaning and conditioning processes of the secondary raw material, the reduction and reuse of water resources and the use of organic surplus by obtaining ecological fertilizers, establishing thus “zero waste” throughout the recycling process.
In PE WASTE, in addition to investigating the three pillars of MSW recycling (thermoplastic pellets, water resources and organic matter), the automation and application of new optical detectors that allow the separation of organic matter from the rest of the susceptible components has also been started. Thus, GENEPOL takes a step further within its plant: starting with the most polluting raw materials, conditioned in pre-treatment processes, obtaining a valued product that comes from higher quality recycled plastic and with a largest number of applications on the market.
CETIM have extensive experience in circular economy; more than 90% of our projects are oriented towards this area. At PE WASTE, we have collaborated with GENEPOL in all the activities carried out. In the first place, we are working on the definition of the new plastic material recycling process from the black MSW bag and the technologies that make it possible to make better use of the by-products generated in addition to obtaining a higher quality thermoplastic product.
Thanks to the experimentation carried out by CETIM, GENEPOL was able to optimize the residue washing stage where using alternative conditioning agents (surfactants / surfactants) the quality of the LDPE was improved prior to the extrusion stage.
In addition to improving the final plastic product, the main parameters of the process were optimized in pilot plants and the improvement of mechanical and thermal properties was carried out in our laboratories using a mini-extruder and microinjector. To improve the pilot plant, CETIM implemented new improved separation processes thanks to optical detectors. Thus, the polymeric formulation with the best mechanical and thermal properties and the lowest associated cost was chosen.
Finally, CETIM carried out a technological, environmental and economic validation of the new recycling process implemented in GENEPOL.